TNCC Student Overcomes Challenges of Cerebral Palsy Graduates with AAS Degree in Human Services

Published: May 19, 2008

For Keishera “KeiKei” White graduating cum laude from Thomas Nelson Community College earlier this month marked yet another significant triumph in her life. Throughout her 28 years she has lived with a rare form of cerebral palsy and is wheelchair-bound. When her peers took the stage to receive their awards on graduation day, White proudly took a position out front to accept her Associate of Applied Science in Human Services degree.

“…from the beginning of my life I had obstacles to try to hold me back, but I didn’t let that stop me … The doctors called me a ‘miracle baby.’ I spent the first 16 days of my life in the hospital without bonding with my mother,” says White, explaining that she suffered a severe lack of oxygen at birth that resulted in cerebral palsy.

Determination to meet and beat any challenge has driven the Bethel High School honor graduate ever since. “I type with a head stick in order to get my work done. I also have my own apartment. I can say that I truly enjoy life,” she notes.

While attending TNCC, White was a student worker in the Admissions Office and participated in several campus activities. Having graduated with a 3.3 grade point average, she is now enrolled at Old Dominion University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Human Services. She attributes her success and positive attitude to her family.

“My mom took the word ‘can’t’ out of my vocabulary. She used to say you can do it, it might take you a little longer to do it but you can do it. The word ‘can’t’ was just like a curse word in our household,” she recalls.

White aspires to a future in social advocacy guided by her personal experiences. She was mainstreamed into regular second grade classes at age 10 after three years of “fighting the system to get me into regular classes.”

“…I want to be a liaison between the court system and children with disabilities. I also want to be an advocate for people with disabilities. My family had to fight all of my life for me to participate in anything I wanted to do so I feel that I am a true expert in not taking no for an answer,” White adds.

A life time of activity and community involvement clearly show White’s can-do spirit. From as early as age 2, she was regularly spotlighted in a local newspaper, the Daily Press, for such feats as membership on a youth cheerleading squad.

Among other honors, achievements and affiliations are:

  • National Honor Society membership;
  • GI Joe Real American Hero – presented with Medallion of Merit by Senator Charles Robb;
  • Social Services of Newport News internship;
  • Sharon Stewart Coles Law Office internship;
  • Volunteer for Transitional Youth Program, Leisure Activities Program, Voting Polls, Mary Christian Campaign, Hampton City Hall Greeters Program, Youth Leadership Forum, and Winners of Wheels Club and
  • Hampton Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities membership, to name a few.

The daughter of Roscoe and Gwendolyn White of Hampton, she is planning a summer 2010 wedding with her boyfriend of seven years, Kenneth Moore, also of Hampton.

To request an interview with Ms. White, please contact the Office of Public Relations at Thomas Nelson Community College at 825-3811.

Release #08-0535

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